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The winter holidays are upon us, and it’s now time for gift-giving to family members and loved ones. Socks are so 1990s, resist the urge! Buy the wheelchair user in your life one of these thoughtful gifts to help elevate their accessible travel game.
Microsoft Adaptive Accessories for PCs and Gaming
Microsoft is one of the most forward-thinking brands when it comes to accessibility, and the expansive line of Microsoft Adaptive Accessories for PCs and Gaming is a great example of their commitment to equal access.
Created in partnership with people with disabilities, Microsoft’s adapted accessories are designed to support a variety of needs — unlocking the power of computers and gaming consoles for those who are unable to use traditional interfaces or controllers.
Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Fashion
In 2017, Tommy Hilfiger launched the Adaptive Collection to help people with mobility challenges, limited dexterity, missing limbs, and other disabilities that make getting dressed difficult.
Pieces in the collection feature cleverly-concealed adaptations such as magnetic closures, one-handed zippers, and extended openings. Not only is the Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Collection more accessible, but it is stylish too!
Wheelchair Barbie and Ken Dolls
2023 was the year of Barbie, after the release of the blockbuster film. Now, fans young and old can score a Barbie doll with a wheelchair or a Ken doll with a wheelchair! Or, you can buy both to score the set!
Mattel’s recent commitment to inclusion has seen a greater range of diverse Barbie dolls enter the marketplace, and it’s exciting to see disability represented. Young children now see themselves in this iconic toy, and I’m not embarrassed to admit — I’ve just purchased a set for myself to display on a bookshelf. The dolls will make a great conversation piece and mark an important moment in disability inclusion.
Apple AirTags — Never lose luggage (or your wheelchair!) again!
This is a fantastic gift or stocking stuffer that will give disabled people peace of mind when traveling, and help make finding lost items easier — even at home! Every traveler should have a set of Apple AirTags!
Attach an Apple AirTag to your checked luggage, wheelchair, backpack, or anything else that’s important to you — it comes in handy when tracking down lost or misplaced items, and you can set an alert to remind you when something has been left behind.
Alexa-Enabled Products that Support Voice and Mobile App Control
Have you ever transferred into bed, only to realize that you left the TV on, or the kitchen light? Did you forget to adjust the thermostat? It’s such a pain when that happens or, at least, it used to be.
Now, my apartment is Alexa-enabled, meaning I can control any number of lights and appliances with a touch of the button on the Alexa app, or with a voice command. Here are a few products that will get you started in making your home smarter:
- Amazon Alexa Echo Dot — I have an Echo Dot device placed in three different places throughout my apartment: the living room/kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. The Echo Dot is the device that listens for my voice commands, answers questions, reads my notifications, and plays music when I ask it to.
- Govee Smart Light Bulbs — These Alexa-Enabled Light Bulbs will allow you to turn your lights on and off with a voice command, while adjusting the color and brightness of light. All you have to do is screw the bulb in!
- eufy RoboVac — “Hey Alexa, Clean the floor!” This command activates my RoboVac, which traces its way through my apartment picking up the dirt that is tracked in by my wheelchair. It’s a fantastic tool, and regular cleanings allow me to space out the deeper cleanings that require some physical effort.
- Amazon Fire TV — Amazon’s lineup of Optima Fire TVs support handsfree voice control through Alexa, making it easy to open apps and play content. Better yet, you can get a huge 55-inch screen for under $500.
- Toshiba Microwave or Air Fryer — Pop popcorn, reheat food and more with an Alexa-enabled microwave or air fryer from Toshiba. Saying “pop popcorn” or “reheat for 5 minutes is so much easier than pressing buttons!
- Amazon Smart Thermostat — With this Alexa-enabled thermostat from Amazon, you’ll never have to touch the thermostat again — simply tell Alexa what to do, and she’ll set the temperature according to your commands.
- Kasa Smartplugs for Older Devices — I keep a small fan next to my bed for airflow, but it isn’t Alexa enabled. By using a Kasa Smart Plug, I’m able to add Alexa control to the fan that isn’t very smart, but which I love. Smart plugs allow you to increase the functionality and extend the life of devices that you already, keeping those older devices out of landfills.
There are countless other Alexa-enabled smart products for the home, but these are just a few. Making my home “smart” has made life so much easier — when I hop into bed and say, “Alexa, Goodnight,” my lights and TV are powered off, the thermostat adjusts to a cooler temperature, my bedside fan comes to life, and my Echo Dot begins playing some soothing sounds that help me wander off to sleep. When I say, “Alexa, Time for Takeoff,” it knows I am jetting off on another wheelchair accessible trip, so it shuts everything down to save me money on electricity while I am away.
Portable Wheelchair Ramp
Not all buildings have level-entry doorways, and a portable ramp can bring wheelchair accessibility to places that it has not existed previously.
I wrote an entire article on the Top 6 Portable Wheelchair Ramps for Accessible Travel, but here are a couple of my favorite products:
- Ruedamann Wheelchair Ramps — Available in various lengths (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 feet), these ramps are a fantastic high-quality option for providing wheelchair access. Each ramp folds in half, has a carry handle, and features non-slip rubber pads to improve traction in all conditions.
- DecPac Wheelchair Ramps — Used by public transit agencies, railways and other transportation companies around the world to provide access, these ramps are popular due to their small size and portability — folding like an accordion and outfitted with a carrying handle, they’re a sturdy lightweight solution made of fiberglass.
Essential Notification Bag Tags for Wheelchair Travel (3-Pack)
If you or someone you know is a wheelchair user who is planning to travel by air, these notification tags are a must-have. When traveling with a wheelchair, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance — the 3-pack of essential notification tags for wheelchair travel allow you to tell airline baggage handlers what to do with your wheelchair, even after it has left your sight.
You get three tags:
- Wheelchair Loading Tag — When wheelchairs are tipped on their sides during loading into the airplane cargo compartment, the risk of serious damage increases. By affixing this bright red tag to your wheelchair, you’ll have one last opportunity to tell the baggage handlers that your “WHEELCHAIR MUST BE LOADED UPRIGHT” — words that are embroidered in bold lettering on the tag.
- Return to Aircraft Door Tag — Where should wheelchairs be returned to you? Not to baggage claim. Not 10 gates down from yours in the airport terminal. But at the aircraft door, of course! Affix this bright yellow tag, featuring embroidered black lettering that reads “RETURN WHEELCHAIR TO AIRCRAFT DOOR” to remind baggage handlers where you expect to receive your wheelchair. They won’t be able to say they didn’t get the message.
- Wheelchair Travel Logo Tag — Support WheelchairTravel.org and accessible travel advocacy efforts with this stylish key chain and bag tag featuring the WheelchairTravel.org logo. Together and with your support, we can open the world to everyone through accessible travel.
I don’t fly without these three tags on my wheelchair and now you can them too. You’ll get one of each in this specially priced trio of tags! You can buy the 3-pack in the Wheelchair Travel Shop.
TravelJohn, the portable bathroom for emergencies
It may not always be possible to use the airplane lavatory, but keeping a TravelJohn disposable urinal in my bag has saved me from disaster numerous times.
This leak-proof urinal instantly turns liquids to gel, ensuring that you won’t make a mess after you go. It’s truly a lifesaver, and I don’t fly without a few tucked in my carry-on. While this is far from a traditional Christmas gift, it is one of those things every wheelchair user needs to have — okay, it’s the 2023 version of socks, the essential item.
Hot Wheels Remote-Control Wheelchair with WCMX Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham Figure
Aaron “Wheels” Fotheringham is an extreme wheelchair athlete who performs tricks adapted from skateboarding and BMX. Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand released the RC Wheelz Stuntin’ remote-control wheelchair that allows kids to recreate the thrilling stunts that have made Fotheringham the Wheelchair Motocross World Champion.
The RC wheelchair is yet another example of Mattel’s drive to develop toys representative of the disability community. The toy can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, far outpacing the capability of my own power wheelchair! It retails on Amazon for less than $35, with free shipping for Prime members.
Earth Throne, the Travel-Ready Toilet Riser
Replacing a standard toilet with a larger one is expensive, making a high-quality toilet seat riser a smart investment for many people with disabilities. The Earth Throne is a highly-rated solution that was created to solve a problem for 90-year-old Dale, as described in this video:
Made from EVA closed cell foam, the Earth Throne is both comfortable and stable. According to the designers, “Clients may sit and the closed cell foam compresses, sealing to most toilets. When standing, the foam releases and Earth Throne is easy to remove, making it portable and easy to clean.”
The Earth Throne is available from Amazon.
Need additional gift-giving ideas?
Additional gift-giving ideas can be found in my list of must-have accessible travel gear, chock full of products that I take on my own accessible trips and vacations.
You might also consider these recommendations for products to make the home more wheelchair accessible.
For inspirational t-shirts, hoodies and other items to spark wanderlust, check out the Wheelchair Travel Shop — your purchases support the important work of this website.
Lastly, consider giving a premium subscription to the Wheelchair Travel Newsletter as a gift — the recipient will have access to newsletter articles not published anywhere else, and you’ll support our efforts to make travel more accessible in the process!